Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Reflection of 2013

Most years on New Year’s Eve I sit and reflect and it is easy to remember all the great things that that year brought. As I sit and think about 2013, I have a hard time not thinking of all the not-so-good things. We buried GaGa. We buried my Nana. My parents’ house was broken into. My dad was involved in a pretty bad car accident (thankfully no one was badly injured). I lost my job of four years due to budget cuts. I took another job where I worked for almost 6 months with no pay. I spent my 30th birthday having food poisoning. I gained back about 15 pounds of the weight I worked so hard to lose. My daddy spent the last three months of the year in and out of the hospital.  Our home was broken into. When I think of those things, it is easy to think that 2013 was a terrible year.

But 2013 also brought positive things.  We started the year with a ski trip. I finished my first half-marathon. We celebrated our sweet precious Addisyn’s first birthday with BOTH of our families there. Ansleigh graduated from VPK. Lolli helped us enjoy Ansleigh’s dance recital. I ran my fastest 5K ever. We spent a week at the beach and got to see both famiIies. I presented at a summer workshop and people actually liked what I had to say. We started working with the youth group at church. I got to take and pick up my daughter from school and experience the car loop. We made many Disney memories with lots of Disney magic, including a FREE trip for four to Night of Joy and trips later in the year with both sets of grandparents. I was able to go on a life-changing vision trip to Boston with our church. I got an incredible job teaching at an incredible school with incredible people. We have developed a deep bond with our Life Group at church. We watched Ansleigh’s faith flourish through sweet precious late night (late for her) talks and the ministries of our church (AWANA, Kids Choir, Sunday School, etc.). We watched Addi bloom into an adorable cuddly little fireball. We had the opportunity to sponsor a child through Compassion International and even got our first letter from her. Ansleigh ran her first two races. I began being discipled by a very Godly woman in our church who has been in my shoes. I was blessed to see another solo performance of Anthony’s in our church’s annual Christmas concert. We celebrated Ansleigh’s 6th birthday with a trip to Legoland. We spent Thanksgiving AND Christmas with family.

2013 was a year that we were shaped and molded by the Father.  It was a year where He taught us to trust him, even when we can’t see where He is taking us. It was a year where we struggled, but grew closer to the Lord. It was a year where I really began to realize that things that come from money are a luxury and that so many other things are just more important. Spending this holiday season with our families was just so much more important to me because we won’t always have them with us. That is a hard pill to swallow, but it is truth. This world is not our home and we belong with Jesus. We are just visiting and while my selfish desires are to keep my loved ones here with me always, I have realized that every moment I have with them is precious and should be valued. Each memory being made is a precious gift from the Lord and is more valuable than any “thing” I could be given or purchase.

As we begin 2014, there are a few things I’d like to try and focus on this year:
·      Pray more, complain less
·      Work as hard at home as I do at school
·      Be a blessing to others—I want to try to be as selfless as my parents have always been
·      Get back into the habit of exercising
·      Drink more water
·      Be more patient with my children
·      Care more, not less
·      Be more compassionate

These aren’t really "resolutions", but just goals I want to work toward. We should all always be working on bettering ourselves in some way. I’d love for you to ask me how it is going throughout the year, especially with the drinking more water thing, as I almost always have a Coca-Cola in my hand. 

I hope your 2014 is full of blessings and that you make an abundance of memories that will mean a lot to you. I wish you health and happiness in the year to come.

Monday, September 23, 2013


A lot of things have happened recently that I've been meaning to post about but today, I wanted to write about my recent trip to Boston.

My little family is a part of an incredible church here in Melbourne where we are constantly being presented with God's word and sound theology, where we are challenged, and where we are loved. Our church often sends teams of people on mission trips to Panama, Romania, and places all over the world, but Anthony and I have never gone because of the finances involved, not having leave from work, or not having anyone to leave our kids with. A little over a month ago, I heard our church was sending a small team of people (10) to Boston on a church planting trip. Immediately I felt the Lord tugging at my heart to go. I asked about the cost and wasn't sure we could swing it. Fortunately, our families are people who love Jesus and love me. Since the trip was just a week before my birthday, several family members were gracious enough to give me birthday money early (extra money, might I add) and with what the church paid towards it, my trip was covered.

At first I thought we were going to scope out a location to plant a church of our own, but quickly found out that that wasn't the plan. We were a "Vision" team going to meet with two church planters who are already there to find out how our church can partner with them and to get a feel for the city.

We flew into Boston on a Saturday, leaving Florida where the temperature was just a few degrees shy of the surface of the sun, and landed in Boston where it was in the 60's most of the week. Saturday night we explored Davis square with some of the interns from Redemption Hill Church (one of the church plants we were meeting with) and ate at an awesome place called Boston Burger. If you are ever in Boston, go there. Sunday, we attended RH's church service in Medford--it was their first Sunday in a new location to accommodate more people. We helped where we could with set up and clean up, and then had lunch at an ice cream shop that also serves food (Colleen's) in Medford Square. We attended a community group Sunday night in Charlestown at the other church planter's home. Monday we had a breakfast meeting with one church plant group and lunch with the other church plant, just to hear their stories, what they are doing, what their needs are, etc. Todd, the Charlestown church planter, took us on a tour of Boston and he was incredible. He has only lived in Boston about two months and he already knows the city incredibly well. Tuesday we toured Medford and attended a NAMB church planting session before catching a Red Sox game at Fenway. Wednesday morning we explored Harvard before heading to the airport.

Touring Boston--The Boston Massacre Site

The front gate of Harvard
Fenway Park

I could give you a million details of all the awesome things we saw, food we ate, memories that were made, and if you want some of them, just ask me, but what is really on my heart, doesn't involve all that.

Why Boston? That was my first thought. Boston is a city that has a deep history of Christianity. Harvard was founded as a seminary. The thing is, Boston was founded on the principles of our faith, but only about 2% of the churches there are evangelical (meaning they spread the gospel). Most of the people in Boston are non-practicing Catholics, are Universal Unitarians, or don't believe at all. What's so wrong with that? Universal Unitarians are very free and liberal in their faith. You can read more about it by following the link. Overall, the churches that are still in Boston, are not teaching all of what the Bible says, but bits and pieces of it. Most of the Catholics there are non-practicing and have been deeply wounded by the scandals in the Catholic church.

What I saw while I was there was a lot of old, beautiful church buildings that are empty. People who used to have faith in Christ but are dead inside. People who want to feel better about their life choices and want to pick and choose what parts of the Bible are acceptable. Several of the churches in the Boston area boldly proclaim their acceptance of all and that non-biblical lifestyles are welcome and accepted. While I believe everyone should be welcomed into a church and should be loved, not all lifestyles are biblical and churches should not embrace sinfulness in any of us (no matter the sin). One church we saw in Medford had three different signs proclaiming this. I got a picture of two of the three signs.
Sign says, "Our faith is over 2000 years old. Our thinking is not."
Notice the rainbow in the bottom corner.

People in Boston are not against you believing in Christ, they just don't want to because it doesn't suit their needs, it isn't convenient, or they just "aren't into it." People in Boston seem to just sort of want everyone to be happy and everyone can do/believe whatever they want to. While that is a nice thought to think, it isn't what the Bible says we should do.

Boston is a beautiful place that is a perfect blend of history and modern life. We talked to a lot of people who live there and most of them are hurting and desperate for Christ's love. While a lot of the sight-seeing we did doesn't seem very missionary-like, it was important for our team to get an idea of what the city is really like, see what is there, what the people are like, and what the culture is. Being a Red Sox fan is quite possibly the biggest part of their culture there. A lot of the people there won't accept you or listen to you if they know you aren't a Sox fan...seriously.

Our trip was very sobering for me. I grew up in the Bible belt and in a family of believers. I have always been around believers. When I've been around people who don't believe in Christ, I've just sort of walked on egg shells so I don't offend them--after all, most non-believers are that way because they think we are full of hate towards people who have different ideas and views than we do when actually, those were the people Christ approached first, with love. I have never viewed myself as a missionary. To me, an missionary was some obscure person who goes to live in the jungles of Africa to translate Bibles and is never seen again. Missionaries can be those people, but that isn't the only type of person who is a missionary. We all are. Jesus called us to that and that is something I seemed to have conveniently pushed aside and forgotten about. Just spending time every day with the Godly women who went really changed my perspective. It showed me just how lazy I have become in my faith.

My team and the church planters we met with really opened my eyes and challenged my heart. Before we got off the plane, one of the flight attendants spoke with us and said she'd been talking with the other half of our group almost the whole flight. They'd ask her what they could pray for her about, where she went to church, and just took time to listen to what she said. Some of the church interns picked us up at the airport to help us find our way on the subway and bus system. Before we ever got on the first train, Joel (an intern), was asked by a man to help him with his luggage. In the five minutes it took to do that and wait on the train, he'd shared Christ with him. People were asking our waiters and waitresses if they had any needs we could pray for. People in the elevator of the hotel were being invited to Redemption Hill's church service. It made me think about when the last time was that I had Christ on my mind when I talked to someone outside that church building. When was the last time I invested in strangers? When was the last time I put other people's prayer needs before my own?

While I was in Boston, I realized that every single person who goes to help with a church plant or who attends a church plant is a missionary in their daily lives. Everyday their job is to love people and show them Jesus. There is a guy at Redemption Hill who leads their praise team. He works at MIT and uses that as his mission field. One of the pastors of RH up until recently worked at P.F. Chang's to help supplement his income and to make connections with people. Everyone there is constantly thinking about furthering the kingdom of God. I am constantly thinking about myself and my needs. Yes, I pray for friends and family who have needs. Yes, I go to church and study my Bible. But up until this trip, I never viewed Melbourne as a mission field.

Another thing that God showed me is that I have never thought of myself as missionary material but the Lord showed me that I could be. I don't think Anthony and I are called into the ministry as pastor and wife or anything of the such, but God showed me that if He calls us to go be a part of a church plant, we could do that. Church planters need people who have regular jobs to be a part of their church planting effort. They need teachers to be in the schools and be Christ to those who will never see him otherwise. They need engineers who work for companies and spend time with the lost at work everyday. They need bankers, photographers, construction workers, and stay-at-home moms. Anyone with any job can serve. All you have to do is be willing to go, willing to serve, and willing to spread the love of Christ.

I don't know if God is leading our family go to serve somewhere. I have always wanted to move back home to be closer to our families because that is what I want and that is where I feel comfortable, but God showed me that we are already pretty far away from our families and He has taken care of us. Could that be God preparing us to serve in a SEND city? Maybe one day. What I do know is that where He leads, we will follow, even if it is out of our comfort zones. I also know that when He needs us to serve, He opens the doors and that hasn't happened yet. I think we were placed in Melbourne/Palm Bay for so many reasons, many of which we still don't know.

I love that we live somewhere that has such a gospel-centered church. By going on this trip, I was awakened to what life should really be like, even in Melbourne, or the Bible belt (Atlanta is one of the cities on the list!). My goal is to be discipled, make disciples, and follow Christ. I am so thankful for the opportunity to go (thanks family and FBC Melbourne!) and to serve our church. I have been blessed.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mean Girls, Mean Mommies

Recently a blog post by a woman named Lisa Jo Baker blew up my news feed. It was titled, "What I Want My Daughter to Know About Mean Girls."

I loved it! I really did. It was beautiful, heartfelt writing about how to teach her daughters to deal with mean girls. But it got me to thinking...

We all want to protect our daughters from mean girls, but mean girls come from somewhere, right? Who are these mean girls? Where did they come from? Why are they like that? I'm no expert, but thinking back to my life experiences and stories shared with friends, I have come to a few conclusions:

1. Mean girls often, but not always, are the popular kids in school.
2. Mean girls, often, but not always, come from mean mommies.
3. Mean girls are mean because it gives them power over others and attention.

Before you get all, "I was popular in high school and I wasn't mean!" on me, hold your horses. I said, often, not always.

Let's think about this. Think about the mean girls you knew. Were they popular? Most of the ones I know were. I was in an awkward position in high school. I was semi-popular. I grew up in a small community, played three sports, and was in a lot of clubs. People knew who I was. I was a cheerleader. That can often make a big difference in the popularity race. I also was "friends" with all the popular girls. Except that I wasn't. I was friends with one or two of the popular girls, but always associated with them. They were friends with me when it was convenient to them--when they needed something creative and artsy done, when they needed someone who could talk to the other athletes who hated the cheerleaders, or even better, when they needed my parents to do something. They would invite me places, or pose in pictures with me during those times. The rest of the year, they talked about me behind my back to each other and the rest of the school,  and always had something to say about my clothes or who I was/was not dating. They knew what to do to get what they wanted while maintaining what they thought was power over me. My secret weapon? I didn't care. I didn't like them and never pretended that I did. If I wanted my parents to do what they were asking, I'd ask my parents. If I didn't, I tell them my parents said no. The athletes they wanted me to talk to when they wanted something didn't like them and wouldn't have done it anyway. I didn't care. I was involved in enough things that I was never one who was tortured and if I had been the one chosen for torture, I would have made a big stink about it. They were too smart to choose me.

What about the mean people who aren't popular or have a lot of friends? There are those people, but I think they are mean because they have been burned by someone else who is popular.

Mean girls come from mean mommies. I know, I just made someone really angry, but think about it. How often do you talk hurtfully about someone else when you are with your friends? How often do you comment on someone's wardrobe, or can you believe she let her kid do so-and-so, or mention how many bottles of wine she had in her cart at the grocery store? How often do you have these conversations in groups of other women? Are your children within hearing distance? Children are very observant. Growing up, I watched people all the time. I still do. Those mean girls, their mommas would sit at our practices or slumber parties and talk trash about everyone who wasn't there, or even the kids whose parents  weren't there. It takes a special kind of woman to talk hatefully about a child. Where do you think these mean girls pick up on this stuff? It doesn't come from thin air. Your kids (and my kids) see YOU do it. Then, they take those skills they've acquired from Mommy and her friends and apply it to get what they want. When it works, they try it again, and again until your daughter is the mean girl. They learn this stuff from somewhere, and I'm convinced (maybe I'm wrong) that they learn it from us.

Let me be the first to say that I'm sure I have hurt people and I know I can be mean. We are all sinners by nature. It is easy to fall into gossip--I'm the world's worst. But gossip turns into meanness with our intentions. Are you trying to belittle someone? Do you make comments to make yourself look better than them? Are you trying to hurt someone? Do you want other people to think that you have more money, or run faster, or weigh less, or have a nicer home/car/clothes than someone else? Are you trying to make your children appear better than someone else's child? "I know your son scored a three on FCAT this year...that's so great! My daughter scored a four." What are your intentions? For myself, I am often oblivious that I am hurting someone. I am not the kind of person who intentionally hurts others. I'm just not. I'm sensitive to those things because I often find myself on the receiving end of it. I hurt others unintentionally--foot-in-mouth disease, if you will. But I know a lot people who take pride in knowing they are better than someone else. And from what I gather, a lot of those people were raised that way. Their parents wanted them to have better things than other people so their kids could be the best. We all want our kids to have the things they want and to have nice things. It comes with being a parent, but what is in our hearts when we buy our daughters the $100 American Girl doll? Is it because she wants the doll and it is good quality so it will last for a while? Or are we buying the doll because her other friends don't have one so she'll be the only one with an expensive doll?

Mean girls and mean mommies are mean because it gives them power over others and attention. When a mean girl hurts someone else, they have power over that person's heart. Often, people bow down to the mean girls because they don't want to be hurt again. They have power. They also get attention when they belittle someone. When you tell someone how much better you are at something than they are, you bring attention to yourself. All of a sudden people are noticing your nice car that is better than Jennifer's, or how much faster you are when you run--poor Miranda has to walk. You bring positive attention to yourself and negative attention to someone else. You are lifted above them. It is nice to feel like we are good at something and it is alright to be proud of what you've gotten with your hard work. The thing that is hard for me to sometimes remember is that no one cares how fast I run or how cool my minivan is, but if my child mimics my behavior and hurts someone else, I'm accountable to God and the world for her actions. My pride has hurt someone else.

How can we best teach our daughters about mean girls? Explain to them why mean girls are mean.

How can we prevent our daughters from becoming mean girls? Don't be one.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Lack of Appreciation

My oldest daughter is five. She is incredibly smart and mature for her age, but she's five. Today I picked her up late from school (for reasons that could not really be helped). On the way from school to church, she proceeded to tell me that the gift we are planning to give her teachers (which I haven't had time to finish yet because I work a full-time job outside of the home) is not going to be enough. Someone else in her class has been giving the teachers presents every day and not just her teachers, but the other teachers she is with for part of the day too. I was told that I needed to do more so we can appreciate her teachers as much as the other little girl does. I tried not to lose it with her and tried to explain that some mothers have more time than other mothers and some families have more money to spend than other families. That we have to buy gifts for her teachers and Addisyn's teachers and that we just can't spend that kind of money. I thought that was the end of that.

Then, when I was putting her to bed an hour late (we had to stop at Walmart and pick up invitations for her graduation party with some friends from school, I let her watch tv while I got sister ready for bed and asleep, and then I let her watch an EXTRA tv show while I got the dishes washed), she got upset with me that I wouldn't read her a story. I told her that she had gotten to stay up late already and there wasn't time for a story tonight. She told me that I'm not as good at putting her to bed as Daddy is and that if I did it like Daddy, she would get to have a story. Then she jumped back on the subject of our teacher presents not being good enough.

I know I'm taking it personally, and I know she is just five, but it made me wonder how many times I treated my mother like dirt because she wasn't doing something I wanted her to do. I know I did it. Several times. Especially when I was a teenager.

My mother worked hard all day everyday. She worked a full-time job outside the home, kept our house clean, our tummies full, took us all over the county for tap, jazz, ballet, gymnastics, and cheerleader practice when we were younger and then gymnastics, cheerleading, basketball, and softball when I was older. She threw the best birthday parties ever, made sure we had cute clothes to wear, awesome presents to give, and made sure our homework was done. She would get up early to braid my hair for softball games (and two of my best friends), take me to buy new books when I finished the one I was reading, and spent all her weekends doing things my sister and I wanted to do.

I honestly do not recall a single time past the age of 8ish where my mother did what she wanted to do regardless of what our plans were. She coached my little league cheer team. She took us shopping. She used her lunch hour late so she could be at all our pep rallies. She did without so that we could fit in.

I was a tad bit self-absorbed as a teenager. I was only interested in what I wanted to do and stayed locked in my room if I was at home. I ignored my mother when she wanted to talk. I expected her to feed me, wash my clothes (and NASTY softball uniforms), and bring me everything I forgot to school. Everybody loved my mom. They called her Martha. I knew how awesome my mom was but that never stopped me from rolling my eyes or having an attitude.

Most of my actions were typical teenage actions--things to be expected. But I was wrong. I should have thanked her. I should have not blown her off when she wanted to talk to me about my dates or what my friends were going through.

When I was a senior, I was accepted into two colleges and one of those schools awarded me a full scholarship renewable for four years. I had a big decision to make and I don't know if my mom realizes it or not, but she is the reason I chose to go to Auburn (where I did not have a scholarship). One night we were talking, or rather, she was trying to talk to me while I was talking to multiple friends on AOL, and she asked me what I was going to do. I told her I'd probably just go to the school that was free and she looked at me and said that she always wanted to go to Auburn. She went instead to the school that was closer and cost less (and I think she had a scholarship too). Her plan was to transfer to Auburn, but she never did, and if that was my plan, I probably never would either. She said that if it was my dream to go there, I should go--don't worry about the money, they would find a way.

I listened to her and went to Auburn. That decision changed the course of my life.

And when I went to Auburn, she stocked my apartment and made it the cutest apartment around. She bought me all the things I liked about home so I'd feel comfortable. When finals came, she took a few days off work and came to stay with me. She did my laundry and cooked for me and cleaned my apartment so that I could just worry about studying.

That first year of college, I realized how awesome my momma really was.

And even now, years later, she is still amazing, and everyone still knows it. Even Ansleigh knows it. I'm ok with not being as good as Lolli, because Lolli's shoes are hard to fill.

Momma, I am so sorry for all those times I treated you terribly. You are honest-to-goodness the world's best mother. I hope, you didn't take it personally, but I fear that you did. Just know that all my friends have always appreciated you and even though it took me a while to catch on, I know it now and my girls know it too.

You are awesome and I am blessed.

I love you.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My Nana

Yesterday, my Nana died.

I don't know how old she was, but she was old and her body had given out on her.

When I think about who she was, I can't help but to smile. She was a feisty old lady with a heart of gold. She was very opinionated and she liked to talk a lot (see...it is genetic!).

During football season, she'd get so worked up about Auburn football that on Saturday nights, she wouldn't be able to sleep at all.

Up until she was no longer able, every Wednesday she did a "tape" ministry with her church. I never had any idea what this was except that it had something to do with cassette tapes and visiting shut-ins. She never missed it.

She kept an immaculately clean house. No finger prints on the fridge and no vacuum marks in the carpet. She would take a broom and sweep the carpet after she vacuumed so there weren't any marks in the carpet. Once I asked her, "Nana, why would you do that? How is anybody supposed to know you vacuumed if you can't see the vacuum lines?" and she told me that she lived by herself and she didn't care if anybody knew that she had vacuumed.

She was known all over the community for her beautiful yard with the white picket fence. She had beautiful azalea bushes and incredible dogwood trees. We always took our Easter pictures at her house in her front yard and every year, she'd have my dad and my uncle go hide a huge garbage bag full of eggs so that the four of us grandkids could go hunt them.

She was also known as the wart lady. She had magical voodoo powers (well that's what I called it) that could remove warts. She would take a potato, cut it in half, rub the potato all over your warts, and then plant it in her garden. In a couple of weeks, the warts would be gone. My momma took half my cheerleading team over to her house once so she could work her magic on all my friends.

She was very strong in her faith and every day she read her Sunday School lesson out of a little book. She kept it right beside her monthly copy of Southern Living.

She collected tea pots and bird houses.

She also had a big, breakable rooster in her dining room. I asked her once why she had a big ol' chicken in her dining room and she told me it wasn't a chicken, it was a rooster, and she thought it was pretty.

She told stories of my Papa Louis and stories of when she worked at Flowers Bakery.

She wore sweat suits and white Keds during the winter, and seersucker pants outfits during the summer. To church, she always wore a suit, a beautiful necklace, and a butterfly broach. She has two display frames of them in her room. I was always fascinated by her butterflies. I wore one pinned inside my wedding gown as my something borrowed, although, I'm pretty sure I never gave it back.

She was stubborn and hard-headed. She was kind and she was loving.

She always had candy and enjoyed having visitors.

She loved her brothers and sisters and talked to them often.

She makes the best chicken-n-dressing you'll ever have.

She never missed an occasion to give a card to someone. When Ansleigh was a baby (a mere two months old) she sent her a Valentine's card with a $5 bill in it and told me to buy that baby some chocolate.

She forced me to learn how to make macaroni and cheese when I was fourteen or fifteen because I needed to learn to do something for myself (she was right, I did need to learn).

She was a wonderful grandmother. She helped take care of us when we were sick, called us, kept the family together, and remembered us, even when we were too busy to remember her.

I'm sure she is much like every other grandmother in the world, except to me, she is different. She's my Nana. I am so thankful that she is not suffering anymore, but I will miss her dearly. Life will not be the same without her, but we are all better people for having known her.

Monday, February 25, 2013

13.1--I did it!

This weekend I completed my first half marathon.

You may remember almost a year ago, I posted that I was determined to do it as part of my weight loss goal.

Side note: I haven't posted in a while about where I am now with my goal to lose the weight. Addisyn will be one in a few weeks and I am at the goal weight I set for myself (137 pounds). I've been there since October-ish. I gained some weight over Thanksgiving an Christmas (about 8 pounds) but I'm back down. I do have what I have always called an unrealistic goal weight and I'm about 10 pounds shy of that. Maybe I can get there this summer when I have more time.

I did great all summer training. I started with the Couch to 5K app and loved it. Once I completed that, I downloaded a half marathon training app made by the same makers and used that. Once school got back into swing, my running became less frequent, and eventually, I was only doing my long runs because something was always coming up during the short runs where I couldn't do them. Some were legitimate reasons and some were just excuses. In January, I did The Color Run in Orlando. While I was running, my knee really started bothering me. I stayed off it a week and then did 10 miles. After that, I was miserable. I finally got it checked out and I have I.T. Band Syndrome. Basically what that means is that my I.T. band is too tight and it creates friction in my knee when I run, which causes irritation, which feels like someone is jabbing a knife in my knee and twisting every step I take. Since then I have stayed off of it a lot and just done some short runs here and there, mostly on the treadmill where I thought there would be less impact.

I'm pretty sure I caused the knee problem myself by not training accurately. Now, I just need to do the stretches and exercises needed to help it get better and then, I'm going to train correctly.

The Trip:
We went over to Disney on Saturday morning. The Health & Fitness Expo was at the Coronado Springs Resort. You couldn't park there and had to park at Downtown Disney and take a bus. Rather than drag the kids over there, my awesome hubby entertained them at Downtown Disney while I went over to the expo. I expected long lines but by the time I got there, it wasn't bad at all. There were tons of people there but I walked right up and got my race number and my race shirt. I waited a long time (close to an hour maybe) in line to go through the official runDisney store. I also scored my hunny a pair of limited edition runDisney New Balances (last pair in his size!) but was sad they didn't have my size. After the expo we went over to Hollywood Studios for the day to catch the newest version of the Disney Junior show. I tried not to walk too much (a mere five miles, which is nothing compared to what we usually do) and went back and checked in to the hotel (All Star Sports). They got us a preferred room (close to the lobby and on the bottom floor) so I'd be close to the bus pick up.

My sweet hubby and kids chased me all over during the race, and afterward, we checked out of the hotel and went to Magic Kingdom for the day where we ended up walking about 10 miles (on top of the 13.1 that I did yesterday morning). Needless to say, I'm pretty sore and tired today.

I saw a picture of a sleeping beauty running costume on Etsy and it was ridiculously expensive but it didn't look that hard to make. I had the running skirt and I had the tank top already so my amazing mother took what I had and made it into an even better one than the one I saw. She is awesome! :) Thanks, Mommy!

Do you have to wear a costume? No, not at all. Did a lot of people have them on? I'd be willing to say that most people had some kind of costume on, even if it was just Minnie ears. Even a lot of the thousand or so guys that ran had costumes on. :) They were good sports!

The Race:
I barely slept the night before (which almost always happens to me). I woke up at 2:30 and got up at 2:45. I got on the bus around 3:00 where I started sipping a gatorade, ate half a banana, and took some tylenol (for the knee). I got to Epcot and the runner's area around 3:30 am. I took pictures with Princess Jasmine and Princess Ariel and then stood around until my corral was called to go line up.
I had a few friends running, but none running with me. It would have been better and a little easier if I'd had someone with me, but it was still a blast! There were 26,000 other runners there!

Once they call your corral (I was next-to-last!), you walk about 20 minutes away through the secret hidden spots of Disney to line up. I stood in my corral for a small eternity. I was worried because my feet were already hurting a little from the day before. At 6:17, my corral got to start. I was somewhere around two miles when the winner of the race passed us on her way back. She finished in 1:17!

I stuck to what I had  trained to do which was run 4 minutes, walk 1. I could have done more but I was really worried about my knee. My plan was one of those, "Slow and steady finishes the race" sort of things. I took some spray Icy Hot with me and continually hosed myself down as aches and pains popped up. My knee did eventually start bothering me around mile 7 but that was much better than I expected.
I started seeing characters around the 3 mile mark. The first ones I saw were all the princes (even Mulan's!) and Captain Jack Sparrow with a big pirate ship. I didn't stop because the lines were about 30 people deep and I wanted to get a good jump on the sweepers (the people who will pick you up if you are behind pace). We got to Magic Kingdom around mile 5 or so and as we were coming through the parking lot I saw my sweet husband there with my two little girls. Ansleigh wanted them to both have on Sleeping Beauty because that is what I was dressed like. Ansleigh was holding up a sign she'd made that said "Go Mommy!" and had princess stickers all over it. It was just what I needed to remind me that I was not alone.

Running through Magic Kingdom is amazing. Seriously amazing.  Gaston was out, Belle was out, and Prince Mickey and Princess Minnie were there too. The castle creates a HUGE bottle neck and it was impossible to run or even walk fast until you were well out of the castle.

From there, I just kept chugging along. Disney has people set up all along the way with people cheering you on, music blasting, medical tents (with ice, tylenol, and biofreeze), lots of water and powerade, and they make it easy to keep going. I passed Villian characters, Mulan, and a ton of other characters (and photo op stops) but I never stopped. Especially on the back half of the run because I was hurting and I was afraid if I stopped, I'd never start back or I'd lose what little momentum I had.

My husband was awesome. He got up early, got the kids dressed, and chased me around. He was watching my gps location from his phone and when I started slowing down some, he'd send me the sweetest text messages checking on me, asking how I was doing, motivating me, and once, he even texted me a picture of the finish line telling me I could do it! Each time I got a text from him, it was the exact moment I needed it. He will never know how much that meant to me.

I never looked at my runkeeper app with my pace. I knew I couldn't set a time goal for myself because my knee was so unpredictable. I just wanted to finish. Every book or article you read about running distance running tells you that your first race, your only goal should be to finish and have fun that that is what I did. My split times sucked (I checked them this morning) and I averaged a 13 minute mile. Am I happy with that? No, but I did what I needed to do to be able to finish. My time wasn't good (3:11) but I finished. A year ago, I thought I was setting an impossible goal and I did it. 13 miles is a LONG way and a lot of people never have the courage to try. I will not diminish my accomplishment because my time wasn't good or because I was slow or because I walked some. Of the 26,000 something people that ran, only 21,000 finished and I was 14,000 something in overall finish so I was still faster than 7,000 people! :)

The race was a blast and a blur. I told my husband that it was the shortest, longest three hours of my life. It seems like it went by so quickly and it is all kind of a blur, but in the moment it felt like an eternity. I honestly thought I'd never get to the finish line. When I did, I choked up a bit. It seems silly that I'd cry at the finish line, but I couldn't believe I had done it. Did I do it well? No, but I did it.

The Future:
Do I plan on doing another half marathon? Crap, yes! It was fun and now, I want to be better. I am going to slow down a bit and let me knee stop hating me. I'm going to do a couple of 5k's. Then, I'm going to train correctly over the summer and fall. Hubby and I are going to do the Disney Wine & Dine half marathon in November. He has started training too :) and wants to do the Disney Marathon and eventually the Goofy Challenge. I also want to do the Coast-to-Coast challenge. I want to run the Tinkerbell Half at Disneyland and then the Princess Half (again) at Disney World. I doubt I can come up with enough money to do both next year. I also would like to do the Princess Half with a friend that I've trained with and someone that we can stay together the whole time because honestly, that was the hardest part--not having someone beside to you talk to and cheer you on and share the experience with you.

Anyone want to join me in the Coast-to-Coast challenge? I promise I can run a little faster that what I did! :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Heart

I started this blog as a place to write about the things that were on/in my heart, thus the title of Mommy Friday's Heart. Well, lately I've had a couple of things on my heart and in the next few posts I'm going to share them with you, but today I want to write about the first thing that has been on my heart lately: orphans.

James 1:27 says that, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

Jesus says in Matthew 25: 40, "The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’"

If orphans aren't the least of these, then I don't know who is. I don't think all of us are called to the adoption of orphans, but it is clear that God wants us to love orphans and help them in any way that we can.

I do not feel the call of adoption and I don't have a ton of money laying around to donate to orphans so what can I do? Well, I have this little blog here that has about 200 readers (an astonishing amount to me but not that many compared to other blogs) that can read what I write about orphans. I can show my readers ways they can help.

We have several friends who either recently adopted or are currently in the adoption process and it can be tedious and frustrating and at times, very heartbreaking. I do not want to diminish anyone's adoption process and we certainly have tried to help out as we could, but right now, we have very dear friends who have recently been called by God to adopt a little girl out of Ethiopia and her name will be Josie.

The costs of adoption, especially international adoption, are astronomical and our friends cannot even begin to really get started until they've raised about $6000.

I am not asking you to donate, but I am asking you to go to their blog and follow along with them on their journey. If nothing else, maybe you can see what it like to go through this process. They have a Facebook page that you can "like" and get updates that way too.

Right now, they have two things going on. They are selling tshirts, which are incredibly adorable, and the only reason why I haven't purchased one yet is because I can't decide which one I want more. They also have a giveaway going on.

The basics of this giveaway is that you donate money and based on the amount you donate, you get a certain number of entries, and these entries give you chance to win an American Girl doll of YOUR CHOICE!!!! That's right, you get to choose. Even a donation of a mere $10 can get you entered. You don't have a little girl to give a doll to? Donate it to some needy child. Your little girl isn't old enough for one? Put it up for later when she is old enough. I promise you that you can find someone to give this doll to, all while helping bring Josie home to the family God has called her to.

To read their story from the beginning, go to: http://findingourjosie.blogspot.com/

To check out the awesome shirts, go to: http://www.adoptionbug.com/findingourjosie/

To get in on the American Girl doll action, go to: http://findingourjosie.blogspot.com/2012/10/fundraiser-announcement-american-girl.html